Original Debut: In 1927, Universal Studios spent $100,000 (big bucks in those days) bankrolling the Bagdad Theater in Portland’s Hawthorne District. It was a lavish ode to the former Ottoman Empire—with intricate Middle Eastern architectural flourishes, a bubbling central fountain, and usherettes in Arabian-style outfits.
Now Showing: Mike and Brian McMenamin, two Oregon-bred brothers with a yen for turning historical buildings into hip hotels and pubs, bought the Bagdad in 1991 and redid it in their own artful way. Though they retained the Alhambra-style Middle Eastern architecture, they upped the ante by adding murals of mythical creatures, gleaming ceilings, mosaics, and seat-front tables where patrons can enjoy a menu of pub fare (the spicy mac ‘n’ cheese is a favorite) along with pints of Bagdad Ale, a lager on tap in the on-site bar).
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